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Old December 6, 2009, 01:45   #1
fizzix
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rethinking summoning

There are several aspects of how summoning affects gameplay that bother me. Some are unavoidable, some are not. The main things that bug me about summoning are:

1. Use of Anti-summoning corridors.
2. Weak monsters summoning much stronger monsters (once had Lorgan summon a berserker who then trampled him)
3. Extremely strong summonses or extremely weak summonses. I understand that this is part of the random nature, but I'd much rather have a bell curve instead. (yes summonses is the proper plural of summons)

Now I have a bunch of ideas about how to deal with these. Generally I feel they weakens monster summonses, but I hope to propose a way that still keeps summoning to be very strong overall.

First we define some new game features.

Limbo: A separate monster list that's created along with the level. It should be about half the size of the monsters on the level (not including pits/nests/vaults). Monsters that spawn on the level come randomly from limbo. Monsters that are banished go to the limbo list. Monsters that are destructed have a 50% (or some other number) chance of winding up in limbo. If there are no monsters in limbo, no new monsters can spawn on the level.

Summons vs Call: A call brings a monster or a group of monsters from somewhere else on the level *or* from limbo to the summoner. If the level and the limbo list are empty the call goes unheeded. A summons creates a new monster or group of monsters near the summoner. This is currently how summonses are handled.

Now for the new rules:

1: With few exceptions (to be named later) summonses only bring 1 monster. The Friends tag is overridden.
2: Summonses can never create a monster of higher level than the summoner
3: Summoned monsters appear next to the player and the summoner if possible, removing non-permanent walls if necessary. If not possible, summoned monsters appear next to the summoner, removing non-permanent walls if necessary.
4: If all spaces near a summoner are filled with monsters, a summons is still possible, and will trample a weaker monster with a stronger one. If all monsters are stronger than the summoned monster then the summoned monster is sent to limbo.
5: Calling brings some number (3d4?) monsters of random type from the level or from limbo to the summoner.
6: All spaces surrounding the summoner are filled, but walls are not removed. Extra monsters are placed as they are now.
7: Summon Uniques can call multiple uniques or summon one unique. If it's a summon, the most powerful available unique is summoned that doesn't violate the 'higher level' rule.
8: Summon Ringwraiths can call multiple ringwraiths or summon one ringwraith.
9: Summon kin can summon more than one monster. Monsters are added until the level *total* of the summoned monsters are equal to the level of the summoner. However, this works as a call as far as wall removal is concerned.

To decide whether a monster calls or summons:

If the summoner is adjacent to @ and a summons would place a monster adjacent to @ but a call would not, then a summons is done.

Otherwise, both a summons and a call are attempted and whichever would produce more powerful monsters is carried out. For example if the Witch King tries to summon greater undead but the only undead on the level or limbo are two white wraiths while a summons rolled up a black reaver, then the summons is done. If there were two white wraiths and a black reaver on the level, then the call would be done and all 3 would be brought to the Witch King.

The results of all this:

ASCs are not nearly as useful because of the wall removal. I don't really like the wall removal idea, but I want to neutralize ASCs. I really don't like them. Someone probably has a better idea for this.

There is a *huge* advantage to clearing out a level. This gives the player some control over what an enemy can summon. I really like the idea of being able to limit what can be summoned with some actual effort (instead of ASCing)

Summoning is weaker overall. You can't get a bunch of Great Wyrms of Chaos, or Gothmog with 20 greater balrogs. On the other hand, you can't be surrounded by 50 hill orcs either.
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Old December 6, 2009, 03:01   #2
Derakon
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What's so terrible about anti-summoning corridors? A lot of Angband combat involves manipulating line of sight rules so that you can't get trounced on by multiple enemies; it seems to me that eliminating that would make combat much harder in a not-very-fun way.

That said, I like the limbo idea, and the resulting weakening of Destruction effects.
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Old December 6, 2009, 08:06   #3
Philip
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Nice idea. A priest once summoned Nar, the Dwarf to add to Berserker from Lorgan. How do you deal with vaults(can monsters be called from there? If yes, you could get a monster to call them out and teleport everything away. Then there would be a free vault.
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Old December 6, 2009, 09:01   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
ASCs are not nearly as useful because of the wall removal. I don't really like the wall removal idea, but I want to neutralize ASCs. I really don't like them. Someone probably has a better idea for this.
There is a very simple solution. No digging through walls, only through rubble, and no stone-to-mud spell.

I have not used an ASC in years. It is possible to play without them.

I would miss digging/stone-to-mud to get back to a monster when phasing took me to a nearby disconnected room, but maybe that is not a bad thing. I also use stone-to-mud to enter pits from the side opposite the door to keep all denizens together for dispel_evil, but perhaps that is abuse as well.
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Old December 6, 2009, 14:22   #5
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Well I agree that summoning could use some looking into for tweaking, but I don't really agree with your specific suggested changes. Part of the fun of summoners is that they can summon crazy strong things to make things interesting, and other times they summon a huge boon of loot for you. Why shouldn't weak monsters summon stronger ones? Who would ever summon magical and mythical creatures if they couldn't summon someone strong? The idea of summoning in literature is to summon someone stronger than you to aid in fighting some too-strong opponent.

I don't know how summoning currently works, so maybe it's already what I'm going to describe: What you could do is add some guidelines such that it's not 100% random as to will they summon someone weak or strong, with some % probability it'll summon something weaker or of its same strength, and a low and increasingly low per additional level chance to summon something stronger. And please no sending banished monsters to a waiting list to be resummoned, I got rid of those hounds for a reason.

Basically, I don't want the game to lose the fun and challenge of summoning, but at the same time I'm really annoyed at how often gnome mages summon wyverns. Well, basically I don't have any real suggestions atm, but just feel that summoning is so old it probably could use a tune up, but nothing drastic imo.
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Old December 6, 2009, 17:02   #6
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I agree that ASCs are horrid, the idea just bothers me so much. It's a tedious activity that really should not be that necessary. It's possible to go without but more difficult currently. I also like the idea of summon vs call, that's quite clever. But I think that, when you summon kin, the total levels of the monsters summoned should be slightly greater than the summoner's level, although no one monster should be above the summoner, so that you can call in some slightly stronger kin as well as tons of fodder.
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Old December 6, 2009, 17:19   #7
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Thumbs down

Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
There are several aspects of how summoning affects gameplay that bother me. Some are unavoidable, some are not. The main things that bug me about summoning are:

1. Use of Anti-summoning corridors.
2. Weak monsters summoning much stronger monsters (once had Lorgan summon a berserker who then trampled him)
3. Extremely strong summonses or extremely weak summonses. I understand that this is part of the random nature, but I'd much rather have a bell curve instead. (yes summonses is the proper plural of summons)
<snip>

1. No idea of yours addresses point 3
2. Yes, non-uniques should not be able to trample uniques.
3. As someone else mentioned it does not make sense for a summoner to only summon weaker creatures, unless if you summon tons of creatures
4. Corridors are a tactic to address large dangerous crowds, your solution seems to be removing the large dangerous crowds, that would make the game blander.
5. I think you should post a different post on the Calling idea, I like it, but it should exist as a mechanic outside of summoning.
6. I dislike the limbo for many reasons


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Old December 6, 2009, 17:29   #8
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when was it changed so that summoners only summon onto their own surrounding squares? that seems like a relatively recent change to me, and a fairly adequate nerf to summoning on its own.
i dont' think ASCs are all that bad. they can be time consuming to set up, and even a little tricky to lure your opponent into. they're useless against morgoth, fairly useless against greater undead, and not exactly super useful against sauron or any unique that likes to teleport. i don't think of them as a particularly game-breaking measure, and really only use them regularly against the nasty unique greater demons, sometimes dragons. i dont' like the idea of getting rid of digging and stone-to-mud, either. like derakon said, line of sight manipulation is a staple feature of angband. nobody's saying we should get rid of teleport away or banishment, which are considerably more easily abused, imo.

what really bothers me about summoning is when it gets chain-summon crazy. there are times when it's simpy impossible to get a greater demon horde under control - i guess that's the point, just don't know if i totally like it. the only suggestion i have there is that maybe summoned monsters can't use summoning powers, or at least for 50 or 100 turns or something? that seems a litle more in line with what summoning should be like...
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Old December 6, 2009, 17:34   #9
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I hate ASCs because of the tedium in creating them. Part of Angband is the dynamism of the game. Preparation makes sense but that, I would say, is too much.
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Old December 6, 2009, 18:26   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawnosullivan View Post
when was it changed so that summoners only summon onto their own surrounding squares? that seems like a relatively recent change to me, and a fairly adequate nerf to summoning on its own.
Early 3.0.x under Robert Ruehlmann, ~2004. I'd have to look in more detail to be precise.
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